Duffy’s Dispatches: Joe Lasko on Story Planet’s AGO Event

Joe is Story Planet’s intrepid Program Director, and on Saturday, March 21, he led our An Alien Has Landed event at the AGO. During the single hour of the day that I am awake at the same time as humans, I had the chance to sit down with him to ask how it went.

Duffy: Unfortunately, I was at the ITA on Saturday welcoming a group of lost Zyxxons and couldn’t make it to the AGO. Can you let me know what you got up to?

Joe: When aren’t we welcoming a group of lost Zyxxons? We really could have used your help at the AGO, but of course we totally understand. Here’s what happened…  Early in the morning, we got a call from the AGO, reporting that there was some strange activity being reported around their young learner commons. Some strange rock-like materials had been found, and it appeared that someone or something had been in the space, looking for something. We searched and searched, but other than a few strange messages printed out and written in a language we were unable to decipher, we were unable to find anything. Now, as you are well aware, sometimes adult eyes are the problem, so we asked a group of young Earthlings for their help, as their eyes often see things ours don’t. They searched the scene and were able to find a number of strange artifacts. After some series investigation, the young Earthlings figured out that an alien spaceship must have crashed somewhere nearby and that these were parts from the ship.

Duffy: It sounds like you and your team of intergalactic mystery-solvers had a blast. Here’s the question of the hour: what was the alien looking for?

Joe: Funny you asked!  We were lucky enough to have a few young Earthlings in the group who could read the strange language. They translated the messages and revealed that the alien was here looking for new energy sources for its home planet called Zero. From there, our team of young Earthlings wrote a story to help explain to others what happened, and then created a number of art projects to spread the word and help the alien find what it was looking for. They made buttons, booklets, posters and alien ships in a jar.

Duffy: We call this program ‘galaxy-famous’. As someone who has successfully traversed the Milky Way (despite being lactose intolerant), I agree with that statement. Could you explain what makes programs like An Alien Has Landed so unique?

Joe: As I said before, young Earthlings are able to see things adults can’t. They just need to be given the opportunity. Being able to take part in an experiential project where they are immersed in the mystery allows them to connect in deeper and more meaningful ways, making connections and applying prior knowledge to the investigation. It’s also a lot of fun. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend their Saturday afternoon looking into alien activity?

Duffy: One of the most inspiring aspects of Earth is that volunteerism is thriving. How are events like these exciting opportunities for not only kids and youth, but volunteers as well?

Joe: These events couldn’t happen without our volunteers. They are so vital to the success of the project, ensuring every young Earthling on our team gets the attention and assistance they need. Events like these are a lot of fun. Not just in terms of setting the scene for the adventure, but in being able to see how excited young people get when they’re invited into this strange and exciting world of mystery. It’s an experience that really does last an intergalactic lifetime.

Thanks for hosting such a fantastic event, Joe! 

Grief Workshop Registration Deadline, Author Fest Alphas, Writers’ Room at Pauline Public School and Our Story Club’s Final Session

Stargazers, we are very excited to introduce you to Duffy, our curious in-house alien! Follow this link to read more about Duffy and keep checking back to our blog to read interviews with our friends, volunteers and community partners!

Grief Workshop Registration Deadline

Tuesday is your last chance to sign up for the NOT LOST grief workshop being run in our space for ten weeks starting April 19.

Email notlostworkshop@gmail.com for more information or to register.

Author Fest Alphas

On Wednesday, April 1 and Thursday, April 2 Story Planet will be visiting schools to host our galaxy famous alpha workshops! We have 4 alphas running over 2 days and can’t wait to read the stories that they come up with!

Writers’ Room at Pauline Public School

We can’t wait to start the Writers Room series at Pauline Public School, just up the street from our space! Every Tuesday morning starting April 7, students will receive extra writing support during school hours. This is a great opportunity for volunteers who are teacher candidates or who want to gain an in-school experience.

If you’re interested in helping out with any of the programs we’re putting together, let us know!

Young students colouring

Story Club’s Third and Final Session

On April 30, we’ll be starting our third and final session of Story Club: Travel Guide. This 5 week program will meet every Thursday afternoon from 3:45-5. As a refresher, this final instalment of Story Club will be used along with the previous session and in conjunction with 826NYC to create a travel guide for young astronauts from Toronto and New York City alike!

Contact volunteer@storyplanet.ca for more information!

Introducing Duffy the Alien

Story Planet is thrilled to officially introduce Duffy the Alien to all of our fellow travellers, storymakers, and friends. If you’ve ever visited the ITA, you may have seen Duffy lurking behind the portal door, taking a nap on a bench, or even siphoning a cup of Black Hole Brew (but only when it thought you weren’t looking). Duffy may be a new face for some, but like a Federation starship’s warp core, it was actually the driving force behind Story Planet and the ITA.

In a gripping tale involving an out-of-control spaceship and a passionate hunger for an enormous space squid eyeball, Duffy hurtled through the Earth’s atmosphere from its home planet Plutonia PS9, and crash-landed at the corner of Bloor and Dufferin. It named itself after the first sign it saw – a street sign for ‘Dufferin’ – and a little offended by Canada’s frigid climes, sought shelter in an empty office space located at 1165 Bloor Street West.

Much like the ITA we support today, Duffy invented the ITA to create an intergalactic travel hub here on Earth. It was a place where aliens many parsecs from home could recharge and grab a couple of souvenirs before beaming up and blasting off. And because the local children thought Duffy was interesting, they started gathering there to share tales, write stories, and create artwork about their travels. These are the values to which Story Planet remains committed, under the leadership of its Alien Chieftess, Liz. (According to Plutonian record, Liz’s coronation was so beautiful even the most poker-faced of alien species wept.)

Now, Duffy has decided the time and space has arrived for it to directly interact with our community. Communicating via the Space Blog, it will discuss its Earthly explorations, particularly liaising with our generous partners to help us get a sense of what community engagement on our planet is all about.

Check back soon for some stellar interviews about the people who help keep Story Planet in orbit.

This Week’s Afterlight Book Club Meeting, Sex-Ed Workshop for Parents and the Upcoming Grief Workshop for Youth

Unfortunately, we will have to postpone our upcoming Podcasting 101 workshop indefinitely while the organizer of the program tends to a family emergency. We’re sorry for any inconvenience. We are hoping to run a new workshop on Monday’s in its place, so keep checking back to our events page for announcements about other workshops your kids might be interested in!

Afterlight Book Club Meeting on Tuesday

On Tuesday, March 24, our Afterlight Book Club will be meeting to discuss The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.

Filled with murderers, money and quite an impressive backstory, this feel-good book is a great read for all ages.

RSVP to the Meetup event page for more information and updates. The cost of admission is pay-what-you-can. Feel free to bring a friend and please contact us on the Meetup event page if you have any dietary restrictions we should be aware of.

Happy reading!

Sex-Ed Workshop for Parents This Sunday

This Sunday, Sexual Health Educator, Sonya JF Barnett will be dropping by to talk to parents about how to talk to their teens about sex in the digital age.

Learn how to talk to your teens about safe sex, contraception, online relationships, consent, orientation and gender and more.

The cost for this event is $25. For more information and to register, visit sjfbarnett.com.

NOT LOST Grief Workshop

NOT LOST is a FREE 10-week creative writing workshop for youth living with grief caused by the loss of a loved one. This workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to share, grieve, and create.

NOT LOST welcomes youth aged 18-28.

Registration closes next Tuesday, March 31, 2015. Classes start Sunday, April 19, 2015.

Space is limited. Please email notlostworkshop@gmail.com for more information or to register.

Story Planet at the AGO!

Story Planet will be holding one of our galaxy-famous – nay, universe-famous – programs at the beautiful AGO on Saturday, March 21! Join us from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at our An Alien Has Landed event, where discerning space detectives aged 3-12 will have the opportunity to participate in a day of clue hunting, story creation, and art programming. You’ll find us in the AGO’s Children’s Workshop Space. We hope to see you there!

March Break Drop-Ins, Rescheduled Afterlight Book Club Meeting, Sex-Ed Workshop for Parents, NOT LOST Grief Workshop and Our Upcoming Podcasting 101 Workshop

Space travellers, we had to make a few changes to our programming for the upcoming week so, if you’ve signed up to join us, please read the following posts carefully. Also, note that Homework Club is CANCELLED this week for March Break. See you soon!

March Break Vacation into Space Workshop

March Break Drop-ins: March 17th and 18th

Unfortunately, we had to cancel our March Break Camp (we apologize for any inconvenience!), but we’ll be hosting “Vacation in to Space” drop-in workshops in its place for kids aged 6-12 this Tuesday, March 17 and Wednesday, March 18 from 10am-12pm.

Venture into another galaxy and return to Earth with amazing souvenirs, posters and gifts from your intergalactic adventures!

We’ll provide snacks and supplies. A minimum donation of $5 is suggested to help support Story Planet programming.

Call 416-645-1049 or email Michelle at volunteer@storyplanet.ca for more information or to sign up.

Afterlight Book Club

This Tuesday’s Afterlight Book Club meeting has been pushed to next Tuesday (March 24). We apologize for any inconvenience.

This time, we will be discussing The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson — a book that is every bit as good as the title is long!

RSVP to the Meetup event page for more information and updates. The cost of admission is pay-what-you-can. Feel free to bring a friend and please contact us on the Meetup event page if you have any dietary restrictions we should be aware of.

Happy reading!

Sex-Ed Workshop for Parents of Teens

Join certified Sexual Health Educator, Sonya JF Barnett on March 29 at 10 am for a 3-hour workshop on how to talk to your teen about sex. Learn how to discuss openly and comfortably about topics such as: basic biology, puberty, safe sex, online relationships, consent and more.

The cost for this event is $25. For more information and to register, visit sjfbarnett.com.

NOT LOST Grief Workshop

NOT LOST is a FREE 10-week creative writing workshop for youth living with grief caused by the loss of a loved one. This workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to share, grieve, and create.

NOT LOST welcomes youth aged 18-28.

Registration closes Tuesday, March 31, 2015. Classes start Sunday, April 19, 2015.

Space is limited. Please email notlostworkshop@gmail.com for more information or to register.

Podcasting 101

Hitch a ride with Story Planet as we explore the brave new frontier of podcasting! In this program starting Monday, March 23, youth in grades 7-12 will join our production team to write, edit and record a brand new podcast series starring and produced by them! Through a variety of hands-on workshops, our students will learn podcast production skills including: field recording, writing for the spoken word, interviewing techniques, and audio editing with Pro Tools.

Over the course of this workshop, students will write and broadcast two new podcasts for Story Planet.

For more information, contact us at info@storyplanet.ca!

Under the Portal’s Success, Afterlight Book Club, Second Last Week of Story Club and Our Upcoming Podcasting 101 Workshop

We’ve got a lot of really exciting announcements to make this week! Between the success of our recent Under the Portal event and our upcoming Afterlight Book Club meeting and Podcasting 101 workshop, there’s never been a better time to join our team. If you’re a graphic designer who’d like to help us create a graphic story for a pitch we’re putting together for potential donors or just someone who wants to become a part of our awesome crew, give us a shout at volunteer@storyplanet.ca!

Afterlight Book Club

The 100-year-old-man

This month, on March 17, our Afterlight Book Club will be discussing The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, a book that’s about exactly what you think it is.

RSVP to the Meetup event for updates and more information. The cost of admission is pay-what-you-can. Feel free to bring a friend and contact us on the Meetup event page if you have any dietary restrictions we should be aware of.

Happy reading!

Second last week of Story Club

Over the last few weeks, our Story Club students have been swapping stories with their pen pals at 826NYC about their respective cities while working together to publish a duel-city travel guide: The Young Astronaut’s Guide to Toronto/The Young Superhero’s Guide to New York. This Thursday was the second last day of the workshop, so our students were hard at work finishing their stories and drawings for their part of the travel guide and responding to their friends across the border. We can’t wait to see the final product!

Podcasting 101

Hitch a ride with Story Planet as we explore the brave new frontier of podcasting! In this program starting Monday, March 23, youth in grades 7-12 will join our production team to write, edit and record a brand new podcast series starring and produced by them! Through a variety of hands-on workshops, our students will learn podcast production skills including: field recording, writing for the spoken word, interviewing techniques, and audio editing with Pro Tools. Over the course of this workshop, students will write and broadcast two new podcasts for Story Planet.

For more information, contact us at info@storyplanet.ca!

Under the Portal

A few weeks ago, we hosted a fundraising event ~under the portal~ at The Intergalactic Travel Authority with a musical performance by Gavin Gardiner and Edwin Huizinga from The Wooden Sky, readings from Pasha Malla and Marianne Apostolides and beer from Double Trouble Brewing. Everybody had a great time and, as it turned out, we even had an astrophysicist in the crowd able to answer our burning questions about the Voyager mission! What a blast!

Thank you to everyone who came out to support this event. The money we raised through ticket sales will go a long way in funding literacy programs like Story Club.

If you missed this event, keep checking back. We’ll let you know when we’re hosting another Under the Portal event!